The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Session 70
(Part 1 of 6)

Session No. 70

24 Sivan 5721 (8 June 1961)

Presiding Judge: I declare the seventieth Session of the trial open.

Attorney General: I call Mrs. Raya Kagan.

[The witness is sworn.]

Presiding Judge: What is your full name?

Witness: Raya Kagan.

Attorney General: Mrs. Kagan, you reside in Jerusalem, in Kiryat HaYovel, and you work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?

Witness Kagan: That is correct.

Q. In 1937, you went from Vilna to Paris, in order to prepare for your studies for a doctorate degree in history, and when the Germans entered France, you remained there?

A. That is correct.

Q. You were detained on 27 April 1942?

A. Yes.

Q. You were taken to a camp?

A. I was transferred, first to the Prefecture and then to Tourelles.

Q. What was Tourelles?

A. Tourelles was a small camp - it was the name of a quarter in Paris.

Q. Do you remember that one day a certain SS officer arrived there?

A. Yes.

Q. Who was he?

A. That was on 18 June. In the morning we were told to come down from the barracks to the courtyard, and all the women inmates of the blocks, all the prisoners, came down quickly, and we saw an SS officer.

Q. Who was this SS officer?

A. I did not know him personally, but two women prisoners who had been arrested by him personally, whispered to me: "That is Dannecker."

Q. What happened to you?

A. After the selection, which Dannecker himself conducted, he chose young, fit women. We were separated from the rest of the women, we were placed in a wing of the barracks which up to that point had been empty, and there we awaited deportation.

Q. Were they all Jews?

A. We were all Jewish.

Q. Jewish women?

A. Jewish women. And the deportation began on 22 June, at five in the morning. We were transferred in buses to the railway station of Drancy. We were sixty-seven women altogether. This was the first transport of Jewish women from France. And there, nine hundred and thirty men joined us, and hence the total transport amounted to one thousand people.

Q. When were you deported from Drancy?

A. Some hours later, they put us into a cattle train, and we moved off.

Q. And you arrived at Auschwitz?

A. On 24 June.

Q. This was in 1942?

A. In 1942.

Q. And you remained in Auschwitz until 18 January 1945?

A. Yes.

Q. And from there you made your way to Ravensbrueck, and you were sent to Mecklenburg?

A. I was taken to a Jugendlager (youth camp) near Ravensbrueck, and my last camp was Malchow, near Mecklenburg.

Q. What kind of work did you do in Auschwitz, Mrs. Kagan?

A. On the day following my arrival at Auschwitz, I was chosen - quite fortuitously, of course, since there were Jewesses from Germany; they were looking for office clerks who knew German, and in our transport there were many Jewish women from Germany whose mother tongue was German. I was also considered as a candidate. I had no prospects of success, but, by chance, the Schutzlagerfuehrerin (the [female] leader of the protective camp) chose me, too. Out of our transport, four women were chosen for work in the office.

Q. What was it called?

A. The office in which we were required to work was called the "Political Department," with its two divisions - the "Politische Abteilung" (Political Department) and the "Standesamt" (Civil Registry). Two of us were transferred to the Politische Abteilung and two to the Standesamt.

Q. What were the functions of the Politische Abteilung?

A. This department was very important in Auschwitz. It had political functions - maintaining security in the camp. SS men, who worked with us, were engaged in this. In addition, there were administrative duties. The Politische Abteilung, in its administrative function, was called the "Registratur," and about half the girls in the commando, perhaps more, worked there.

Presiding Judge: Were the Registratur and the Standesamt the same thing?

Witness Kagan: No, they were two separate departments, with two directors. But there was a head of this Politische Abteilung, and he was the director general of both of them, of both the Registratur and the Standesamt - he was Untersturmbannfuehrer Maximilian Grabner. We were talking about administrative duties...

Attorney General: Yes, please explain.

Witness Kagan: In the Registratur, the women prisoners dealt mainly with current matters affecting the prisoners, the affairs of living prisoners. On the other hand, the Standesamt, kept a register of the inmates, and it had three functions: the registration of births, marriages, and deaths. In Auschwitz, of course, the first two duties were non-existent, or virtually non-existent, and all the emphasis was on the registration of deaths.

Q. Do you recognize this form, Prosecution document No. 1112.

A. That was called "Aufnahmebogen" (reception questionnaire).

Presiding Judge: This document will be marked T/1331.

Attorney General: This was also submitted to the Accused and was given the reference number T/37(306). The Accused's reply to the document is to be found on pages 3467-3471.

Please explain to us now, Mrs. Kagan, what this was.

Witness Kagan: When a prisoner reached the camp, he had to register with the camp administration. There, first of all, he was asked all kinds of personal questions. This document was placed in a file, and that became the prisoner's personal file.

Q. Who had to complete the upper portion of the form on page one? I notice that it says here "Kempf Max Israel" in handwriting, on the printed form. Who had to enter this?

A. The prisoners themselves completed this.

Q. Here, on the second half, the lower part of the page, there is something completed in handwriting which records when the prisoner was detained and what unit sent him.

A. That part was not filled in by the prisoners.

Q. Who filled it in?

A. Apparently the Germans.

Q. I draw the Court's attention to the fact that it says: "The unit handing over for arrest - IVB4a."

Please look at page 2 of this form. What is the second page? Is that the same?

A. Yes, but nevertheless, there are some differences here. It is less comprehensive than the first form.

Q. What you said about the first page also applies to the second?

A. Yes.

Attorney General: Again, I should like to draw the Court's attention to the fact that on this form as well, which refers to another prisoner, it says that the unit sending the prisoner is "RSHA IVB4a."

Presiding Judge: What is the significance of the additional digits, which are identical in both cases - can you tell us something about that? After "RSHA IVB4a," there appears "3233/41 G," on both forms. Do you know?

A. No.

Attorney General: We shall have further evidence on this. We have evidence from the trial of Rudolf Hoess, by a Pole by the name of Rajewski. This is a code number indicating the country from which the prisoner was dispatched. Each country had a specific mark showing where the report had to be sent to, announcing the prisoner's arrival. That is a document which we intend to submit tomorrow.

So, these forms were completed in the Registratur Department?

A. In the "Aufnahme" (Reception).

Q. What did they do in the Registratur?

A. They used to receive it in the Registratur, and there they had a sort of archive. There were cabinets with such files, and where necessary, there were also all kinds of other matters. For example, if he was an Aryan, there were questions which were addressed to the office. The file could be found there and passed on to be dealt with appropriately.

Q. Particulars about corporal punishment that had been administered - where were they recorded?

A. I saw them annexed to the personal file, when the man died and the file reached me.

Q. Did you, for example, see an entry such as this - our number 1245?

A. I saw one such as this, and I also saw another form, this form, these two forms.

Q. That part at the end?

A. Yes.

Attorney General: We have all of this together. It applies to various people, to corporal punishment. Would you like to tell us, Mrs. Kagan, what these forms relate to - the one dated 16 May 1944, concerning Bruno Jellinek of Vienna - what the form reports? Was he a Jew?

A. Yes.

Q. What does the form say?

A. The form says that this man tried to buy bread.

Q. What was his punishment?

A. His punishment was ten lashes.

Q. And this went into the report to the department?

A. It went into the file, after the punishment was carried out.

Q. And what does the form say about the Jew, Yitzchak Meserezki, dated 2 September 1943?

A. That he absented himself from his Kommando in order to look for some food.

Q. What was his punishment?

A. His punishment was terrible - ten times hard labour and ten times "Stehzelle" (standing cell).

Q. What was the Stehzelle?

A. This was a tiny cell, in which a man was only able to stand. And, after he had stood there all night, he had to work the next day, as usual.

Presiding Judge: Are you submitting the collection of documents?

Attorney General: I shall do so immediately.

Presiding Judge: Incidentally, Mr. Hausner, how did these documents get here? Are they Auschwitz files that were seized?

Attorney General: There are a number of documents which we found at Kibbutz Lohamei Ha-Getta'ot.

Presiding Judge: Where did they originate?

Attorney General: There is an Auschwitz museum in Poland where there are original documents which remained extant after the Germans tried to cover up their tracks. Some of these are in our possession.

Presiding Judge: They surely attempted to destroy the Registratur?

Witness Kagan: We ourselves dealt with that.

Presiding Judge: We shall, no doubt, hear more about this.

Attorney General: What does the last form in front of you say - the one dated 3 July 1944?

Witness Kagan: That he disappeared without permission from his place of work and went to the kitchen, in order to fetch coffee.

Q. What was the proposed punishment?

A. Here there is something very interesting - some note that the Kapo of this Kommando used to distribute the coffee; that means, that the Kapo certainly demanded that he should bring the coffee, and it was not that he, himself, absented himself from the work.

Q. What was the proposed punishment?

A. Twenty lashes.

Judge Raveh: What is the meaning of the question marks next to the remarks that you have just read?

Witness Kagan: A query, apparently, why the Kapo was not punished.

Q. Who added these question marks?

A. Probably the officials in charge who received this added these question marks.

Q. They had doubts?

A. They did not have doubts, but probably they thought that the Kapo also ought to have been punished.

Attorney General: As far as you know, did they distribute coffee in Auschwitz?

Witness Kagan: If it could be called coffee, then they distributed coffee. It was something with an undefinable colour and an even more undefinable taste, without a grain of sugar.

Attorney General: I ask the Court to admit these documents as evidence.

Presiding Judge: This will be marked T/1332.

Attorney General: What did they deal with in the Standesamt?

Witness Kagan: The Standesamt, as I have explained, was the department which dealt with the registration of deaths.

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